Plans have been scrapped for a proposed natural gas power plant in western Kentucky.
Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric announced plans last year to construct a $700 million facility in Muhlenberg County.
The utilities announced this week the project was canceled because nine municipalities have chosen to terminate their contracts with the utility companies.
State Representative Brent Yonts of Greenville is disappointed by the loss of construction jobs.
"It would have brought people into the county to live, to work, and maybe even settle here at some point in time," said Yonts. "It will have a substantial negative impact on the county because we will not be getting the benefit of that work."
A new natural gas plant would have made up for the loss of an old coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County that’s slated to close next spring.
KU and LG&E still plan to build a solar-generating plant, but Yonts believes it would have less economic impact.
A stable of Kentucky lawmakers are learning how natural gas can be developed to meet the state’s transportation needs.
Industry experts briefed members of the committees on energy and natural resources at the Owensboro convention center Thursday on the viability of natural gas filling stations, which are currently limited across the state.
“It’s an important issue for Kentucky," said Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter, a co-chair of both committees. "Gas has become a major player, in providing energy sources for Kentucky, and that's why we wanted to come to Owensboro."
"One of our members, this is his home community, and they've got a beautiful facility, and they just worked hand-in-hand so we could hear a presentation from the gas association and learn more about what they're doing."
Natural gas is expected to comprise a larger share of the state’s energy sources in the future.
Kentucky Utilities Co. and Louisville Gas and Electric Co. say they want to delay a request to build a natural gas power plant in Muhlenberg County and a solar facility in Mercer County because nine municipal customers plan to cancel their wholesale power contracts with KU.
KU and LG&E say the cancellations are effective in 2019 and total approximately 320 megawatts of load. The companies asked the Kentucky Public Service Commission in January for approval for the two facilities. The companies asked the PSC to delay the case for up to 90 days while it considers the effect of the termination notices.
The companies said the potential loss of the nine customers won't affect service to their remaining 1.2 million customers but could have an effect on the cost to serve the customers in the future.
Land agents are in Kentucky trying to secure easements for a proposed interstate natural gas liquids pipeline that would go through an estimated 18 counties. And residents of some of those counties are gearing up for a potential legal battle over pollution and safety concerns.
The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline announced by companies in Oklahoma and Texas would connect natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia with export centers on the Gulf Coast.
One proposed path of the pipeline would extend through northern Kentucky southward into Nelson, Larue, Hardin, Meade and Breckenridge counties. Nelson County Judge-Executive Dean Watts had scheduled a meeting with company officials and the public that was to be held Tuesday morning, but the company cancelled, citing an illness and the need to resolve issues related to the pipeline’s potential route through Ohio.
Mary Ann Chamberlain, a Nelson County native whose family owns property in the county, told the Courier-Journal that the proposed route would cut through scenic and sensitive areas of the commonwealth and could break apart and pollute surface and groundwater.
A spokesman for one of the natural gas companies says hundreds of property owners in Kentucky will likely be approached in the coming months with requests for access to survey their land and possibly buy easements along the proposed pipeline path.
A Kentucky lawmaker has filed a bill that would block automatic utility rate increases for power plants that use natural gas.
The Courier-Journal reports Democratic Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence, the chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, is sponsoring the measure that would prevent utilities from utilizing a provision in state law called the "fuel adjustment clause", which allows utilities to adjust what it charges customers based on changes in cost of fuel or purchased power.
In an interview with the newspaper, Gooch called the measure a "consumer protection bill."
Gooch represents a House seat that covers Daviess, Hopkins, McLean, and Webster counties.